By Matt Fotia
Local rivalries and drive from within. That’s what to look forward to if you’re a Yarra Junction fan in 2020, as two new coaches take the helm ahead of their next Division Two campaign.
With Premiership coach John Holmes standing down at the end of the 2019 season to concentrate on playing, Yarra Junction were left wondering who should take the club along its next journey.
After a long search they found their man, in Belgrave’s 2017 Premiership Coach Richard Brown.
Brown last coached in 2018, when his Belgrave side finished second last in the AFL Yarra Ranges First Division. He assumed his coaching days were over, as he showed no intention of getting back into the ‘game’. He was content watching his two sons, one running around with Fairpark in the EFNL Division Four and one, Michael, at Yarra Junction.
But after a phone call from Yarra Junction President Tony Aulich he found himself ready to go again and was pleasantly surprised with the talent at his disposal.
“I didn’t really have any plans to get back into coaching and then Tony Aulich rang me up to say the job was open,” Brown said of the recruitment process.
“I’m really happy with the list I’ve been given, there is a lot of talent on the track.”
It’s not often that the incoming coach has his predecessor in his starting midfield, and whilst Holmes is looking to take a back seat on that front, Brown is sure that they can find sometime to work together.
“Johnny Holmes has done a terrific job with this club and whilst I’m trying not to lean on him too much, if he’s got something to tell me, I know he’ll come tell me, we were friends when we were going up against each other,”
“But he has certainly set this club up, and pleasingly we’re only going to lose two of his Grand Final side I think and we’ve already gained five new players and are still talking to another three, so it’s all looking good at the moment.”
One of those recruits is Steve Colosimo, who comes to the Eagles from EFNL Division Four Premiers Fairpark. Colosimo, who also spent time at Wantirna South is known for his line breaking right boot. He’s joined by a returning Premiership Eagle Kurt Robb.
Whilst there might be a change in personnel, don’t expect a change in game-style from the Eagles, with Brown content to follow a similar blueprint to the 2019 season, because if not for injuries, he believes the Eagles could well have gone back to back.
“I won’t be looking to change the blueprint too much, the only thing that they got wrong last season was that they ran out of gas, with injuries and a like,”
“The two games in the finals (Semi Final and Preliminary Final) really took it out of them, and they were exhausted heading into that Grand Final.”
With their vanquishers Seville now out of the division, much of the talk has been around Kinglake, who after finishing in the top three last season have added more quality to their list. But for the Eagles new man it’s their local rivals – Powelltown and Warburton Millgrove – that catch the eye.
And he can’t wait to take them on.
“All the talk has been around Kinglake, who’ve recruited really well but I’m more concerned about Warburton Millgrove, I think they’ll be the ones to watch along with Powelltown who always seem to get players from nowhere and they always come good at the right time,”
“But having some good local derbies is going to be really good for the club, I think we’ve got Warburton Millgrove on Anzac Day and that’s really exciting – I’ve always enjoyed playing both those clubs.”
First year Senior Coach Brieannan De Jong is loving her new role at Yarra Junction and is eager to see her new team take the court.
De Jong finds herself in the job after the Eagles sought help from the league to locate themselves a new coach and like her footballing counterpart, she couldn’t be more impressed with what she’s encountered at Yarra Junction all the way from the Junior program to the A Grade side.
“I coach at the Ariels at the moment as the Assistant Coach of the Under 19’s and Yarra Junction contacted Greg Heinrich (AFL Outer East Netball Development Manager) about needing a coach and he put them in contact with myself,”
“Ange Neale has done a great job with the juniors and they’ve been doing their own pre-season which is fantastic,”
“For us (the seniors) the girls have been working incredibly hard, we’ve got lots of work to do, but their attitude and application has been second to none – I can’t wait to see them on court.”
De Jong’s arrival isn’t the only change for the Eagles, with injuries and pregnancies allowing a new dynamic to sweep through the club who haven’t missed the finals for over a decade.
“The teams have changed quite a bit, with a few girls pregnant and some others having long term injuries, so it’s a different look this year, a different dynamic,”
“When I came on the girls said they wanted competition between the teams to make sure all the spots were earned, so building that competitive culture within the club is something that will drive us on court.”
De Jong is looking to use an upcoming practice match against Seville, a recent benchmark in Division Two netball, as a measuring stick on the eve of the season.
“I haven’t been able to go and watch a lot of teams play, but from what I’ve been told our practice match against Seville will be a great test to really understand where we sit on the whole, because otherwise I’m just relying on what the girls tell me.”
Overall De Jong is looking forward to jumping into the Football Netball culture that the AFL Outer East offers, whilst maintaining her killer instinct.
“I want to play good netball and the drive these girls have is very exciting,”
“I’m very pumped, Football Netball is a culture of its own and nothing I’ve been a part of previously is like this.”